Figments of reality: the evolution of the curious mind by Ian Stewart

By Ian Stewart

Peppered with wit and debatable subject matters, it is a clean new examine the co-evolution of brain and tradition. Bestselling authors Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen (The cave in of Chaos, 1994) eloquently argue that our minds developed inside an inextricable hyperlink with tradition and language. They transcend traditional perspectives of the functionality and function of the brain to examine the ways in which the brain is the reaction of an evolving mind that's always adjusting to a posh setting. alongside the way in which they increase new and fascinating insights into the character of evolution, technology, and humanity that may problem traditional perspectives on recognition. The esteemed authors tantalize the reader with those daring new outlooks whereas placing a progressive spin on such vintage philosophical difficulties because the nature of unfastened will and the essence of humanity. This in actual fact written and stress-free publication will encourage any informed reader to significantly evaluation the present notions of the character of the human brain.

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Before more complex forms evolved, prokaryote life dominated the seas for three billion years. During that time many different kinds invented photosynthesis, a way to power their recursive chemistry by extracting energy from sunlight. In so doing they excreted a highly toxic waste product – oxygen. At that time few, if any, organisms made use of oxygen, a highly reactive chemical: it still causes problems today, because it lets things catch fire. The build-up of oxygen changed our atmosphere completely, to the extent that it is a long way from chemical equilibrium – that is, without life the level of oxygen would decrease considerably as it reacted with minerals, oxidising them.

And that is where mind comes into the picture. It is from this kind of cultural transmission of special forms of behaviour, we shall argue, that the specifically human mind has evolved. Mind is not just a matter of sophisticated brain structure; it is something that arose through the cultural trick of passing on behaviour through teaching and learning. The contextual element is crucial: mind cannot arise in isolation. Just as life did not appear fully formed, but gradually became from nonlife, so our minds arose gradually among organisms that came to transmit behaviours more and more via learning rather than in the form of instantly accessible hereditary programmes.

We can even have our cake and eat it too: perhaps DNA piggybacked on RNA and RNA on clay. The autocatalytic network idea is rather different: it presents a set of circumstances in which ‘scaffolding’ is almost inevitable, rather than being just a convenient coincidence. A replicating molecule would be one that catalyses itself, but that’s just a bit too convenient and seems not to happen naturally. ) However, it’s much easier to come up with a ‘support team’ of molecules in mutate replicate Figure 2 Mutation and replication in stacks of clay platelets.

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